Watch hermit crabs form a line from biggest to smallest to trade shells

This is a clip from an episode of BBC's Life Story and it shows how orderly (and also completely chaotic) hermit crabs can be when it comes to trading homes. They all meet up in front of a shell, line themselves up from biggest to smallest and then trade shells with each other by jumping from one to the next.

Of course there are jerk crabs who try to jump the line though.

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DISCUSSION

Hey I've got some hermit crab stories to share!

I lived on the coast for a year and was fascinated with these creatures because even though most of us had one or two as pets when we were young(street vendors used to sell them outside of schools in the city), this was the first time I got to see them in their natural habitat. I always thought hermit crabs are all water creatures, then I found out that there are those that live in the water and will jump right back in then you put them above the water, and the bigger ones that live on land will frantically find dry land when you put them in the water.

Most of the land crabs that were there had snail shells instead because sea shells were too small for land hermit crabs. I heard from the locals that they would gang up on snails(eat them) and rob the shell. Land hermit crabs however are scavengers. They will eat rotten food or stuff you throw out, as well as faeces. I knew this guy who rescues stray or abandoned dogs and had a big place to keep the dogs. He said he had no problem with keeping the place clean because the hermit crabs will do it for him.

I was most impressed by the sheer strength of these creatures. They can climb really well, not just on rocks, but one night I kept one in a bucket, it still managed to climb its way out. It is also very difficult to physically pull them out of their shell.

Land hermit crabs are active at night, so often we will heard sounds of their shells hitting rocks as they move on the ground in the dark. There were a couple of times when I was trying to photograph them using a macro lens and made them nervous, they actually abandoned their own shells, probably trying to get away faster. Also, once I was on this island and found this poor guy using a broken glass bottle as its shell. I was photographing it and it got nervous, and really freaked out because the bottle didn't provide real protection and it was practically naked. Shortly after that incidence, the local news reported a story about how tourists caused so much depletion of sea shells on the islands that local hermit crabs can't find enough shells and are picked up by birds. A lot of people felt guilty and mailed back the shells(to the island's local office) that they took when they visited the island.